FORCED into an unscheduled break, the teams seeing action in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble in Pampanga are using the additional down time to brace for what should be a frenetic windup to the eliminations.
Practices started anew in earnest yesterday, with games set to resume tomorrow after being suspended late Friday afternoon.
Everybody should be re-invigorated and sights more firmly fixed on their respective targets.
“Good thing na rin ang nangyari because nakapagpahinga mga players ko, especially those na naglaro ng heavy minutes in our last couple of games,” said SMB coach Leo Austria, whose team has won two straight and is now in the thick of the hunt for a playoff spot.
“Nagkaroon din kami ng team meetings para i-stress lang din sa kanila na this is no time to let up, to relax, dahil patindi na ng patindi labanan,” added Austria.
“For sure, lahat ng other teams ginamit din itong break para mas lalong nakapaghanda na rin so we should be ready.”
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero has not been idle either. “Individual workouts kahit paano and then alternately usap para ‘yung mental edge hindi mawala,” he said.
“Mahirap kasi kapag na-condition mind and body mo na naka-day off ka. Baka mahirapan kang ma-recover ng form mo kapag nag-resume na games.”
Setting their minds straight is the priority of Ginebra and Blackwater, which have lost two straight.
Find new ways and means to salvage its campaign is also top priority for Terrafirma, still winless after five games and in danger of being the first team to be booted out after the 11-game eliminations.
The games were suspended to enable the PBA to ensure the integrity and safety of the bubble sites in Clark Freeport and Angeles University Foundation gym after the reboot was marred by the two false positives.
A referee flunked a required reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test for the delegates last Oct. 20. Five days later, the league announced that a Blackwater player also tested positive for the coronavirus.
Both were later cleared by confirmatory tests but still made to undergo necessary quarantine periods.
The PBA has reiterated that the bubble has not been breached, but newer and stricter protocols – mandated by the IATF and DOH – were put in place to ensure the safety of everyone in the bubble.
The game suspension comes with a cost.
A total of 12 games, nine in the last three days of the temporary suspension and three postponed after the player’s initial test result, must now be part of the new schedule as the PBA was forced to set a total of five quadruple-headers and two tripleheaders for the league to meet its target date of finishing the eliminations by Nov. 11.